Australia primed for Sri Lanka spin

March 3, 2011 (AFP) – Australian captain Ricky Ponting is confident his side can deal with Sri Lanka’s spin attack and their devastating pace spearhead Lasith Malinga when the sides meet on Saturday. The Group A match in Colombo will be a repeat of the controversial 2007 World Cup final when Australia won by 53 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis formula, a match that finished in near darkness.

Australia have lost quality players Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Glenn McGrath and Sri Lanka can take heart from a one-day series win in Australia last year.

Off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, the only survivor from Sri Lanka’s historic win over Australia in the 1996 World Cup final, slow left-armer Rangana Herath and spinner Ajantha Mendis are all likely to play against Australia.

Sri Lanka will also look to sling-action paceman Lasith Malinga, whose career-best 6-38, including a hat-trick, destroyed Kenya by nine wickets on Tuesday.

But Ponting remains unfazed.

“The first game they had there (at R. Premadasa) was a really high-scoring one and didn’t really favour the spinners as much as they would like,” said Ponting of Sri Lanka’s 11-run defeat against Pakistan.

“We exp